United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. HAZEL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
brought this civil rights action against Defendants Warden,
Dorsey Run Correctional Facility (DRCF), Facility
Administrator, Baltimore City Correctional Center (BCCC)
Warden, and Department of Public Safety and Correctional
Services (DPSCS). ECF No. 1. Pending before the Court is
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative,
Motion for Summary Judgment. ECF No. 10. The Court advised
Plaintiff of his opportunity to oppose the motion, ECF No.
11, and Plaintiff sought and was granted an extension of time
to do so, ECF Nos. 12 & 13. However, Plaintiff did not
file an opposition. No hearing is necessary. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, Defendants'
motion, construed as a Motion for Summary Judgment, will be
unverified Complaint, Plaintiff William Wade alleges that on
July 6, 2017, he was transported to BCCC, a facility
unequipped to care for handicapped inmates. ECF No. 1 at 2.
Plaintiff advised an unnamed Defendant that he experienced
partial paralysis of his left side and therefore could not be
housed at a facility unable to care for people with
disabilities. Id. Despite Plaintiff's warnings,
Defendants housed Plaintiff “on the top tier of
BCCC.” Id. During “a mass
movement” of inmates, Plaintiff “was forced down
concrete steps, ” which he could not maneuver given his
partial paralysis. Id. He fell, sustained injuries,
and was taken to the hospital for treatment. Id.
facility in which Plaintiff has been incarcerated, he has had
access to the Administrative Remedy Procedure (ARP). ECF No.
10-3 at 4-16. In fact, Plaintiff has filed grievances,
unrelated to his claims here, directly with the Inmate
Grievance Office (IGO). ECF No. 10-8 ¶¶ 2-3.
However, he did not file an ARP grievance regarding the facts
alleged in his complaint. ECF No. 1 at 2; ECF No. 10-4
¶¶ 2-3; ECF No. 10-5 ¶¶ 2-3; ECF No. 10-6
¶¶ 2-3; ECF No. 10-7 ¶¶ 2-3. Plaintiff
explains that he did not file an ARP because he “was
injured by, exclusively-the immediate negligence and breach
of fiduciary care caused by defendant's actions, and
seeks monetary damages that cannot be sought by
administrative remedy.” ECF No. 1 at 2.
style their motion as a Motion to Dismiss or, in the
Alternative, Motion for Summary Judgment. When deciding a
motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure
12(b)(6), the Court considers only the facts in the complaint
or “integral to the complaint.” Sec'y of
State for Defense v. Trimble Navigation Ltd., 484 F.3d
700, 705 (4th Cir. 2007). However, Rule 12(d) requires courts
to treat a motion to dismiss as a motion for summary judgment
when the court considers matter outside the pleadings.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(d). Before converting a motion to dismiss to
one for summary judgment, courts must give the nonmoving
party “a reasonable opportunity to present all the
material that is pertinent to the motion.” Id.
Consistent with this rule, the nonmoving party must have some
indication that the court will treat the motion to dismiss as
a motion for summary judgment and “must be afforded a
reasonable opportunity for discovery” if it is
essential to the nonmoving party's ability to oppose the
motion. Gay v. Wall, 761 F.2d 175, 177 (4th Cir.
1985) (citation omitted).
obvious when the moving party styles its motion as a
“Motion to Dismiss or, in the Alternative, Motion for
Summary Judgment, ” as is the case here, that the Court
may treat the motion as one for summary judgment. See
Laughlin v. Metropolitan Wash. Airports Auth., 149 F.2d
253, 260-61 (4th Cir.1998). To show that a reasonable
opportunity for discovery has not been afforded, the
nonmoving party must file an affidavit or declaration under
Rule 56(d) explaining why “for specified reasons, it
cannot present facts essential to justify its opposition,
” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(d), or otherwise put the district
court on notice of the reasons why summary judgment is
premature, see Harrods Ltd. v. Sixty Internet Domain
Names, 302 F.3d 214, 244-45 (4th Cir. 2002). Here,
Plaintiff has not filed a Rule 56(d) affidavit or otherwise
requested discovery in this matter. Under these
circumstances, the Court will construe Defendants' motion
as a Motion for Summary Judgment.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 56, the Court grants
summary judgment if the moving party demonstrates that there
is no genuine issue as to any material fact, and that the
moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a); Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477
U.S. 317, 322 (1986). In assessing the Motion, the Court
views the facts in the light most favorable to the nonmoving
party, with all justifiable inferences drawn in its favor.
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 255
(1986). The Court may rely only on facts supported in the
record, not simply assertions in the pleadings. Bouchat
v. Balt. Ravens Football Club, Inc., 346 F.3d 514, 522
(4th Cir. 2003). The nonmoving party has the burden to show a
genuine dispute on a material fact. Matsushita Elec.
Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S.574, 586-87
(1986). A fact is “material” if it “might
affect the outcome of the suit under the governing
law.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at 248. A dispute of
material fact is only “genuine” if sufficient
evidence favoring the nonmoving party exists for the trier of
fact to return a verdict for that party. Id. at
are entitled to judgment as a matter of law if no genuine
dispute of material fact exists regarding Plaintiff's
failure to exhaust his administrative remedies. Under the
Prison Litigation Reform Act (“PLRA”), plaintiffs
must exhaust the administrative remedies available to them
before bringing any action related to prison conditions. 42
U.S.C. § 1997e(a). The exhaustion requirement applies to
any “suits about prison life, whether they involve
general circumstances or particular episodes, and whether
they allege excessive force or some other wrong.”
Porter v. Nussle, 534 U.S. 516, 532 (2002).
purposes of exhaustion include “allowing a prison to
address complaints about the program it administers before
being subjected to suit, reducing litigation to the extent
complaints are satisfactorily resolved, and improving
litigation that does occur by leading to the preparation of a
useful record.” Jones v. Bock, 549 U.S. 199,
219 (2007). Prisoners must pursue administrative grievances
until they receive a final denial of the claims, appealing
through all available stages in the administrative process.
Chase v. Peay, 286 F.Supp. 523, 530 (D. Md. 2003);
Gibbs v. Bureau of Prisons, 986 F.Supp. 941, 943-44
(D. Md. 1997) (dismissing a federal prisoner's lawsuit
for failure to exhaust, where plaintiff did not appeal his
administrative claim through all four stages of the BOP's
grievance process); see also Booth v. Churner, 532
U.S. 731, 735 (2001) (affirming dismissal of prisoner's
claim for failure to exhaust where he “never sought
intermediate or full administrative review after prison
authority denied relief”). Exhaustion requires
completion of “the administrative review process in
accordance with the applicable procedural rules, including
deadlines, ” “using all steps that the agency
holds out, and doing so properly.”
Woodford v. Ngo, 548 U.S. 81, 88 & 93 (2006)
(emphasis in original) (quoting Pozo v. McCaughtry,
286 F.3d 1022, 1024 (7th Cir. 2002)).
generally may not be excused unless an administrative
procedure is not available. See Ross v. Blake, 136
S.Ct. 1850, 1858 (2016). An administrative remedy is
unavailable “if a prisoner, through no fault of his
own, was prevented from availing himself of it.”
Moore v. Bennette, 517 F.3d 717, 725 (4th Cir.
2008). For example, an administrative procedure is rendered
unavailable when officers are consistently unwilling or
unable to provide relief to aggrieved inmates, the procedure
is so opaque that it is practically incapable of use, or
prison administrators actively thwart inmates from filing
grievances. Ross, 136 S.Ct. at 1859- 60.
Administrative Remedy Procedure provides the process that
Plaintiff needed to exhaust as an inmate in a Maryland prison
seeking to bring an action related to prison conditions. A
prisoner must first file an ARP with the warden of the prison
within 30 days of the incident or when the prisoner gains
knowledge of the injury giving rise to the complaint.
See Md. Code Regs. (COMAR) § 12.07.01.04-05.A
(2017). Second, if the ARP is denied, or the inmate does not
receive a timely response, a prisoner must file an appeal
with the Commissioner of Correction within 30 days. COMAR
§ 12.07.01.05.C. If the appeal is denied, the prisoner
must appeal within 30 days to the IGO. See Md. Code.
Ann., Corr. Servs. §§ 10-206, 10-210; COMAR
§§ 12.07.01.03, 12.07.01.05.B. Inmates may then
seek judicial review of the IGO's final determinations in
a Maryland Circuit Court. Md. Code Ann., Corr. Servs. §
the parties agree that Plaintiff did not pursue available
administrative remedies prior to initiating this suit.
Plaintiff failed to respond to Defendants' dispositive
motion and does not dispute that he did not institute the ARP
process regarding his claims. Plaintiff alleged in his
unverified Complaint that he did not file an ARP regarding
his claim because he sought monetary damages, which he
mistakenly believed could not be pursued through the
administrative process. ECF No. 1 at 2. As discussed above,
the ARP process begins for claims such as Plaintiff's by
filing a Complaint at the institutional level.
Plaintiff's mistaken belief to the contrary does not mean
that administrative remedies were unavailable to him.
Defendants have demonstrated that at each facility in which
Plaintiff has been incarcerated, he has had access to
administrative remedies. ECF No. 10-3 at 4-16. Plaintiff has
not rebutted Defendants' evidence with any demonstration
that officers were consistently unwilling or unable to
provide relief to him, that the procedures were so opaque as
to make them practically incapable of use, that prison
administrators actively thwarted him from filing a grievance,
or that he was in some other way prevented from availing